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The Dark Dark

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  3,079 ratings  ·  426 reviews
The acclaimed novelist Samantha Hunt’s first collection of stories blends the literary and the fantastic and brings us characters on the verge—girls turning into women, women turning into deer, people doubling or becoming ghosts, and more

Strange things happen all around us all the time, but is it best to acknowledge or to turn away from moments when the weird pokes its way
Paperback, 241 pages
Published July 18th 2017 by FSG Originals (first published May 15th 2017)
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Average rating 3.68  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,079 ratings  ·  426 reviews

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Kevin Kelsey
Jul 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Posted at Heradas Review

“...voices that insist on being heard, stories that demand to be told, writers who are compelled to show us something new.” is how FSG Originals describes the books they publish, and I would absolutely describe Samantha Hunt’s writing in this way. Her stories are brutal yet beautiful, magical but grounded, sincere, horrific, and essential. Her characters have such unique perspectives on their lives and the events surrounding them; a lot of the time these were perspectives

boilerplate mission statement intro:

for the past two years, i’ve set december’s project aside to do my own version of a short story advent calendar. it’s not a true advent calendar since i choose all the stories myself, but what it lacks in the ‘element of surprise’ department it more than makes up for in hassle, as i try to cram even MORE reading into a life already overcrammed with impossible personal goals (live up to your potential! find meaningful work! learn to
A fascinating and sometimes disturbing collection of short stories. Samantha Hunt blends magical realism with more conventional literary form to showcase issues of dangerous desire, technology gone awry, and relationships that reveal secrets both sinister and important. Across these stories runs a theme of dissatisfied suburban women who transform in some way, which lends itself to interesting feminist analysis. I most appreciated how Hunt took her characters into vivid and uncomfortable emotion ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I initially set this book of short stories aside because of a fertility theme, but decided to pick it back up in an attempt to read all the books I received in 2017 from subscriptions (and #theunreadshelfproject2018 helped.) It was also included in the long list for the Tournament of Books, but not in the shortlist.

My favorite story was "A Love Story" (which you can read or listen to the author reading on The New Yorker. I like the little zings throughout this one, about married life, and so on
Joachim Stoop
Sep 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
These three short stories...

The yellow
A love story

... instantly reached my all-time short story top 20. They are wild, inventive, compelling and in between 'tongue in cheeck'- funny and 'laugh out loud'-funny.

If the other stories (ranging from average to really good) were as sublime as those three, this would've been in my top 3 books of 2017
Gritty and real and explicit and deep and thought-provoking and laugh-out-loud-funny.

When I swim at the public pool, I wear sunglasses so I can admire the hairless chest of the nineteen-year-old lifeguard. I love it that he, a child, really, is guarding me, fiercest of warriors, a mother, strong as stinky cheese, with a ripe, moldy, melted rotten center of such intense complexity and flavor it would kill a boy of his tender age.

Sep 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had great hopes the threat of Lyme disease would revitalize our sex life. “Would you check me for ticks?” You know, and things….
Rachel León
Aug 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
I haven't read Samantha Hunt's novels, but I picked up this story collection after reading a review. I found Hunt's prose delightful. These stories are so strange and interesting that I now want to check out her other books. ...more
Jessica Sullivan
Aug 27, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017-read
3.5 Stars.

Hunt's short story collection is full of strange, haunted characters confronting some of the darker parts of human existence—from infertility and infidelity to loneliness and mortality. In her surreal and often frightening world, the mundane becomes transformative, both literally and figuratively. Motherhood is the prominent theme, and Hunt's female characters are compellingly raw and animalistic.

It's hard not to compare The Dark Dark to Roxane Gay and Ottessa Moshfegh's recent short s
Jan 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
I would not say I really liked all of the stories in this collection, but I want to set aside personal taste and a reader's natural want for personal connection and rate based on ambition.

Some stories read like things I have read before ("Beast" seemed like something Kelly Link might have written). For the most part, though, Samantha Hunt's stories of shifting existences explore places I've rarely, if ever, read about before: an alternate history fantasy of a love robot sent to kill the Unibomb
Oct 20, 2017 rated it did not like it
I was very excited to read this book, but I was sorely disappointed upon finishing. The stories seem to run together and were difficult to keep straight. I don't know if there was supposed to be a running theme throughout the book other than the fact that all of the narrators seem to suffer from severe mental illness. Where I was looking for stories of the macabre, I ran into stories of schizophrenia and depression, or at least that's what I perceive them to be since there were no resolutions I ...more
Jun 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This may just be the best short story collection of 2017. "The Story Of" and "The Story Of Of" are drafts upon drafts of the same story woven together to dramatize a character's desperation to conceive. Absolutely brilliant. ...more
May 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was some Good Shit.
Feb 16, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: supernatural, 2018
2.5 stars

Why do I keep reading short story collections when, on the whole, I do not care for short story collections. You must save me from myself, reading friends.
Feb 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The stories in The Dark Dark keep getting better as the book goes on, and by the end I was spellbound. You'd be hard-pressed to find another author like Samantha Hunt. These stories explore not only the extraneous terrors (the dark night and the unknown horrors it holds), but the deep-down fears and savagery and strangeness that exist beyond our understanding. Hunt mines the depths of our subconscious inhumanity to reveal what connects us in ways we can't imagine, and in her fantastic stories li ...more
Oct 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I'm a little bit obsessed by Hunt's story "A Love Story," which appears in this collection. Hunt does a great reading of the story for the "New Yorker" podcast. Like the other stories in "The Dark Dark," "A Love Story" is a bit of a slow burn. Hunt starts with the recognizable--the existential struggles of everyday people, characters who can't get pregnant, women pondering their husbands' infidelities--but in "A Love Story," as with other stories in the collection, there are little slippages. It ...more
Nov 01, 2017 rated it liked it
My experience with Samantha Hunt's The Dark Dark did a real 180. There are ten stories in this story collection. I hated the first five and was feeling quite disheartened that I hadn't enjoyed a single story in this collection I'd purchased. But then I really enjoyed the last five stories. My experience with this book kind of echoes the Rorschach blot on its cover, which when turned on its side says Dark and has the imprint of the word Dark beneath it. I certainly liked one half of the Dark more ...more
Martin Olson
Jan 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The price of admission to this utterly amazing, profound, hilarious, haunting book of stories is infinitely repaid by simply reading the first and last entries, "The Story Of" and its moving and profound permutation, which ends the book, "The Story Of Of." Pretty much the most inventive, thought-provoking and heart-breaking writing I have read in a long time. ...more
Apr 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
These short stories hold a lot of meat to ponder, to extricate, to fascinate.
Dec 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I'm just floored by how good this short story collection was! Samantha Hunt is such a talented writer, and the audio narrator is among the best I've listened to. ...more
Aug 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
It begins with the cover art – a Rorschach blot that could be interpreted as a body, a mask; any number of things. And then there’s the title, suggesting an extension of the dark world we all know and that some of us live within, an even darker realm where rules do not apply, where anything is possible. In her latest short story collection, Samantha Hunt celebrates the strange, the otherworldly, the unclassifiable, and the dark, dark side of human nature.

Hunt’s stories are spellbinding, illustr
Alison Hardtmann
Oct 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: library-book
The Dark Dark is a collection of short stories by Samantha Hunt that were often weird and always a little off-kilter, some stories veering directly into George Saunders/Karen Russell territory, and other stories remaining superficially more ordinary, but with an undercurrent that hints of something else.

This was an excellent collection of stories, where each story felt completely different than the one before. The book begins and ends with two variations on the same story and were the strongest
You may read online here

Opening lines:
A coyote ate a three-year-old not far from here.”
“My uncle told me.”
“He said, ‘Don’t leave those babies outside again,’ as if I already had.”
“Had you?”
“Come on.” An answer less precise than no.
“Why’s he monitoring coyote activity up here?”
“It’s irresistible.”
Jul 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
These stories really got under my skin. I read the first half of the book in the morning, thought about those stories all day, then finished the book at night. Wow, that last story... I need to read more of this author's work. ...more
Jenna Moquin
Mar 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was my first Samantha Hunt read, and she's a great writer. Some of the stories weren't as dark as I was expecting them to be, but I enjoyed them nevertheless. I never knew where she was going to take me, which is hard to find in an author these days. ...more
Kristin Bonilla
Jul 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
There's so much to admire here, from story level to sentence level. This one will go on the "books to reread" shelf. ...more
Amber Schroer
Jul 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
*** checks head for ticks*** (me whilst reading this because it immerses you so deeply into the stories that you, too , wish to be a deer, if only for the immunity against Lyme disease ;)
Nov 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a raw, unflattering and often disturbing collection of stories about the darker side of everyday life. It's not trying to appeal to the reader with lyrical sadness, nor does it try to get its characters out of trouble in an inspiring and uplufting way. No, this a book with teeth and guts - it's contents are not pretty, they're full of imperfect characters and disturbing plots, violence, deceut and bad words, but Hunt's writing is impeccable! The way she turns the ugly and disturbing into ...more
Oct 05, 2017 rated it liked it
I won this book thru Goodreads First Reads. I liked most of the stories in this collection. As usual there are always do that I do not like or skim thru. I was expecting these to be really dark and creepy stories, they were not. Most where women working thru different tough spots in their lives.
Sara Batkie
Reading Samantha Hunt feels a little like seeing the ripple of a far-off disaster on the surface of a lake, only for the movement to reveal a bunch of dead fish in the depths below. The danger in her stories seems distant until, quite suddenly, it isn't. Though not overtly linked, the stories have many thematic ties and a vaguely, even sinisterly repetitious quality that makes reading them often feel more like devouring a poetry collection. Motifs like motherhood, deer, ticks, and other woodland ...more
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Samantha Hunt was born in 1971 in Pound Ridge, New York, the youngest of six siblings. She was raised in a house built in 1765 which wasn't haunted in the traditional sense but was so overstuffed with books— good and bad ones— that it had the effect of haunting Hunt all the same. Her mother is a painter and her father was an editor. In 1989 Hunt moved to Vermont where she studied literature, print ...more

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“Unlock the door?' he asks.

This family is an experiment, the biggest I've ever been part of, an experiment called: How do you let someone in?

'Unlock the door,' he says again. 'Please.'

I release the lock. I open the door. That's the best definition of love.”
“I glimpsed a huge beyond when I became a mother, the enormity of an abyss or the opposite of an abyss, the idea of complete fullness, the anti-death, tiny gods everywhere. But now all the world wants to hear of me is how I juggle children and career, how I manage to get the kids to eat their veggies, how I lost the weight. I will never lose this weight. When one encounters a mother doing too many things perfectly, smiling as if it is all so easy, so natural, we should feel a civic responsibility to slap her hard across the face, to scream the word Stop! Stop! So many times the woman begins to chant or whimper the word along with us. Once she has been broken, take her in your arms until the trembling and self-hatred leave her body. It is our duty. I used to think it was motherhood that loosens a woman’s grasp on sanity. Now I see it is the surplus and affluence of America. Plus something else, something toxic, leaking poison, fear. Something we can’t yet see.” 3 likes
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